Hot air balloons are fun to watch when flying in the sky. It amazes spectators how it works and how swiftly it moves when airborne. Seeing a blue sky filled with hot air balloons would be magical as it creates a spectrum of colors that can take your breath away.
The world is full of competitions trying to prove other competitors' best skills and strategies. We all know many different races, such as motorsports, running, biking, and many others, but a few would think that hot air balloon racing exists. It would be hard to believe that these beautiful machines would lazily float up to the sky as they compete with other hot air balloons for a race.
Hot air balloon racing is a legitimate race, but not how other races would show speed. Some consider this not a race and do not expect the firing of a starter’s pistol. Read on for more details about hot air balloon racing.
What is Hot Air Balloon Racing?
Hot air balloon racing is a navigational competition where participants show their skills in navigating their hot air balloons to several locations. The race would usually last for an hour after completing one or more tasks. The officials will award 1,000 points to the participant who will have the best result, while the other participants will receive between 0 to 1,000 points based on their navigational results.
The competition winner is the participant who has the most accumulated race points. They should complete at least three tasks and successfully have at least two flights.
Every racing event has several factors that could affect the performance of its participants and the overall results. Hot air balloon racing also considers many factors to determine the best performances and also to prevent any unwanted accidents that may happen.
Hot air balloons will go based on the wind trajectory and not into or against it. The wind has different directions and speeds, depending on time and altitude. Hot air balloon pilots must have accurate computations of the direction and speed of the winds to varying heights for proper predictions.
One of the most critical factors about hot air balloon racing is the pilot’s ability to read a map layout. Hot air balloon racing is usually held in a vast space and has no obstructions, with a land area of about 50 km x 50 km. The pilots must possess good navigational skills to understand the competition area of coverage better and determine how the topographical conditions may affect the wind drafts.
Hot air balloon racing requires multiple persons to participate as a team. The team members will help the pilot get the balloon to fly and maneuver while in the sky. Pilots need teammates to set up the balloon and inflate it to start flying. Upon taking off, the crew members will constantly communicate with the pilot and follow the balloon until it finishes the race and land.
The crew members will then retrieve the balloon and make sure that they have permission from private property owners where the balloon will land. It is a team effort to pack up and recover their balloons.
Help from Technology
Flying a hot air balloon requires attention to detail to prevent any accidents. Today, most teams also have computer programmers to help them make the correct forecast and plan their flight course. Computer programmers use GPS (Global Positioning System) to help the pilot with goal selection and navigation.
Hot Air Balloon EventsTasks
A hot air balloon racing involves tasks to determine the winner.
Competition events need skilled pilots to operate hot air balloons properly. They must have good maneuver skills and determine their scoring areas, distance limits, targets, and goals.
Every flight has various tasks, and teams must determine them before they start to fly. There are also multiple factors such as weather, topography, and many more that affect the flights of the balloons.
Most hot air balloons do not land on the specified target. The pilots need to drop markers near the target. They use small sandbags as their markers that have streamers attached to them. Some balloons would position themselves at thousands of feet in the sky or may just skim above the ground.
This competition records the results of the tasks that go through winds with different altitude levels. The balloons need to fly, reach the goal, and land accurately.
Results of Measurements
The competition is about the distance between the spot where the marker lands. The marker of the hot air balloon team that makes the shortest distance from the center of the target will receive the most points. Flying the maximum or minimum length within a given time limit is another task for hot air balloon racing participants. They compete to achieve the best change in direction and other flying skills tests.
Types of Tasks
The different types of tasks are how organizers test the participants on how they maneuver their hot air balloons. Tasks variations are about the level of competition, and most participating countries already have an organized set of strategies to fulfill all the tasks of the event. Here are some of the usual tasks that teams must perform in the event.
Pilot Declared Goal
Pilots of the participating teams will attempt to drop a marker that must be near the selected goal, which they declared before starting the flight. It will be a successful goal if they land the shortest distance from their stated mark.
Judge Declared Goal
Judges of the event will be the ones to set the goal. Participating teams must land the shortest distance to the target to get the smallest result.
Hesitation Waltz or Multiple Judge Declared Goal
There will be several sets of goals that judges will declare. Teams must land at the nearest target to win the task.
Participating teams will locate their launch areas and try to drop a marker nearest to a designated target or goal. The shortest distance from the mark to the target will win the task.
During a flight, participants will declare a selected goal, and they should drop their marker nearest it. The shortest distance of a marker to their declared goal will win. Competitors must declare goals and write on the previous marker for fly on. Otherwise, they will not complete a result in a particular event.
Hare and Hounds
In this task, participants will follow a hare balloon and must be able to drop their marker nearest to the target shown by the hare. The team with the shortest distance to the target will achieve the best result.
Participating teams will fly to the launch point of a hare balloon and then must follow the hare. They must drop their markers as close as possible to the shown target by the hare that has no more than two meters upwind of the basket. The shortest distance from the mark to the target will get the best result.
Gordon Bennett Memorial
Participating teams will try to drop their markers within the scoring area to declare a goal. The shortest distance of a marker to the goal will get the best result.
Calculated Rate of Approach Task
Similar to the Gordon Bennett Memorial task, the participants must have unique times of validity in trying to drop their markers to a valid scoring area. The shortest distance to the target within the validity time will get the best result.
Race to an Area
Participants must drop their markers within a scoring area in the shortest time. The duration of this task is from their take-off until they drop. Their time stops once they release their markers, as seen by judges and observers, or the time when the markers touch the hands of the observers.
Elbow is also a task where competitors must make the best change of direction during a flight. They must complete 180 degrees minus the angle ABC turn to get the best result.
A land run is a task where participants must make the most significant area of a triangle A, B, and C. These points will achieve the area of triangle ABC.
Participants of a hot air balloon event must achieve the shortest distance of their markers to the common launch point in minimum time duration. The shortest and fastest will get the best result.
The shortest flight is a task where participants must achieve the shortest distance of markers to the launch point. They must drop a marker nearest to the launch point to achieve the best result.
Hot air balloon racing may not be as exciting as the other forms of racing, but it involves extensive strategies and detailing to achieve the best results. It can also provide opportunities for people who love betting on other events outside a casino. Watching a hot air balloon fly gives delight to everyone spectating the event.